The future of our existence.
Resurrection - a rebirth.
The spiritual body - immortal, invisible.
Also the godless will resurrect imperishable.
The ascension to heaven.
We will be like the Lord.
In our days even among Christians the knowledge of the future of our existence, our
life and consequently the future of our body often is very vague and pervaded by rather unbiblical
Some people relate "eternal life" to their earthly body and think they would go on existing with this body for an unlimited period of time after Resurrection. Others, on the other hand, take the view of a bodiless, that is to say an "ethereal", existence after Resurrection. But after all these two views have at least the advantage to have an idea at all, which perhaps can be still corrected, in contrast to many others who do not even take the trouble to make these mental efforts. The lack of aspiration for pushing forward one's knowledge, the easygoing contentment with the things one possesses in "word and sacrament" even now, the entire "conservative" character of - even the Protestant - Christian faith, is not only due to a lacking familiarity with the biblical eschatology, but also to serious mistakes of religious Christian life, which do not even admit an openness for the biblical concept of the future.
However, when we endeavor to examine and clarify this question on the basis of the
Scriptures, we realize that we do not have to let ourselves in for suppositions and presumptions,
but that we have concrete statements and hints, which will also bear a logical and analytic scrutiny
without any reservation.
The redemption of our bodies to obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Rom 8,20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its
own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; 8,21 because the creation itself will be
set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.
8,22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now;
8,23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 8,24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? Rom 8,20-24;
When here above, in Rom 8,23, Paul speaks of the "redemption of our
bodies", it is not supposed to mean a redemption "from our bodies". This would
be that Greek way of thinking, which is deeply rooted in our European Christianity and therefore can
be found still very often up to this day.
As we can realize below, in 2Cor 5,2, Paul does not advocate here a "bodiless existence" after Resurrection, but he is longing for the new "dwelling", for the new body, which "is our heavenly dwelling".
We would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
2Cor 5,1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we
have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 5,2 Here indeed
we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, 5,3 so that by putting it on we may not be found
5,4 For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 2Cor 5, 1- 4;
And Paul even goes a little bit further in his comparison. He compares our body with
a building. Our mortal body is our earthly house, the hut which is torn down when we die. And those
who trust in eternal life groan in this hut and long for the heavenly dwelling, that is to say for
the heavenly body.
And then Paul shows us that even at that time the Christians cherished the hope to obtain this heavenly body not only by death and raising from the dead but - in the Rapture of the living elect - by "further clothing", so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
If we are united with him in his death, we shall be united with him in his resurrection.
Rom 6,4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so
that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness
of life. 6,5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be
united with him in a resurrection like his. Rom 6, 4- 5;
Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall bear the image of the man of heaven.
1Cor 15,40 There are celestial bodies and there are terrestrial bodies;
but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 15,41 There is
one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star
differs from star in glory.
15,42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 15,43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 15,44 It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 15,45 Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 15,46 But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. 15,47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 15,48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 15,49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 1Cor 15,40-49;
He will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.
Phil 3,20 But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a
Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 3,21 who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body,
by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself. Phil 3,20-21;
But independent of the fact in which of these two ways we obtain our "heavenly
dwelling", one thing is for sure: we will obtain it. As the texts above say, our body will be
like the body of the Lord Jesus in Resurrection. And this view of Paul, which is also confirmed to
us by other passages from the Scriptures - for instance 1Jn 3,2 -, is now the starting point for our
So, together with Paul we proceed from the assumption that after our Resurrection our body will be like the body of our Lord Jesus Christ after his Resurrection. But not only that. In a consistent pursuit of this principle, we also proceed from the assumption that also the proceedings and events around our Resurrection will be similar to those proceedings and events which were to be made out at the Resurrection of the Lord.
There are different views concerning rebirth in Christian circles. This is not
amazing, since we have even in the Scriptures apparently different statements concerning this
The interpretation of "rebirth" seen from the point of view of some brothers and sisters is strictly speaking the act of conversion of a man to the Christian faith. According to this view a believer can call himself "born again" only when he has "received" Jesus. And as we will see later on, this view is not fundamentally wrong. For this opinion is absolutely biblical and is literally handed down to us in the First Epistle of Peter.
We have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1Pet 1,3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his
great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
from the dead, 1,4 and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in
heaven for you, 1,5 who by God’;s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be
revealed in the last time. 1Pet 1, 3- 5;
But in the "rebirth" of our brothers and sisters - whether we want to
admit it to ourselves or not - again and again a certain elite-conscious touch can be felt. Maybe
this is not at all due to the brothers and sisters themselves, but rather to those professing a
different faith. For, as far as they are concerned, those faithful also believe to belong to the
Lord. But on the other hand, they do not have any spiritual "experience" to show for
themselves - as some others - in order to know now concretely and also to convey in a somehow
convincing way that they are "born again".
Therefore the question arises what this rebirth actually is. And if rebirth is indeed an event taking place at the moment of conversion, and if this is the case, if this event is connected with any spiritual or other experience. The above text from 1Pet 1,3-5 can help us in finding an answer to this question. For Peter is speaking here of the fact that we are born again. He says, we have been born anew by God. To be more precise, we have been born anew to a living hope. Hope of what? Hope of an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance. By what means? By means of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. So, according to Peter our rebirth is a hope. This hope has the Resurrection of the Lord as its basis. As our Lord resurrected, we, too, have the hope that we will resurrect. The purpose of this Resurrection and therewith also of this hope is an imperishable, that is to say immortal, eternal inheritance, in short: eternal life. This eternal life now is kept for us in heaven, as Peter says. Speaking of re-"birth" - but not only for this reason - these connections remind us very much of the proceedings taking place at the physical, biological birth. The final goal there is earthly life - but here it is eternal life. The time of "being expecting a baby (a new life)" in the biological sense lasts for nine months. Then the child sees the light of day. The hope of the faithful lasts until the Resurrection from the dead. And they, too, see the light then - the light of a different, a new world. Namely the light and the world of God and the Lamb. And they are then - after the (re-) birth "sons of the resurrection", as the Lord tells us.
They are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
Lk 20,34 And Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and
are given in marriage; 20,35 but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the
resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 29,36 for they cannot die any
more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
This comparison involves, however, a little weak point. Above, Peter is speaking of
the fact that God has "born" us "anew" at the beginning of this hope. The
adequate expression for this “rebirth”, however, would be rather the term “reprocreation"
or “regeneration” in sense of reprocreation. But when we take a closer look at the remarks of
Peter, we come more and more to the conviction that he has anyway meant exactly that with it.
But in order to be objective, let us have a look at the second passage in this
chapter as well, where Peter uses the term "born anew".
You have been born anew of imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God.
1Pet 1,23 You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but
of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
1,24 for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 1,25 but the word of the Lord abides for ever." That word is the good news which was preached to you. 1Pet 1,23-25;
So, this rebirth which Peter means arises out of an imperishable seed. As we can
see, also Peter himself draws here the comparison to biological birth or at least to natural
reproduction by pointing out that this kind of rebirth - in contrast to spiritual rebirth - arises
out of perishable seed. But with that we have also here a hint that in reality Peter means here
procreation (generation) and insemination. Insemination by perishable or by imperishable seed.
And he also tells us by what this spiritual insemination arises: By the living Word of God. So, it is our Lord Jesus Christ, who is this living Word of God (Jn 1,1; Rev 19,13), who inseminated our spirit.
If we now again take a look at the point of view of "rebirth" during the lifetime of the faithful person, namely at his conversion, mentioned at the beginning we realize that the contents of this view is basically absolutely correct. What is wrong is only the expression. We are not "born again", but we are only "begotten again". The spiritual insemination by the living Word of God, the reprocreation, has already taken place. Rebirth not yet.
So, if you want to put it like that, our spirit is "inseminated", "impregnated", "expecting" a rebirth. And when we take a look at the Greek original text of 1Pet 1,3 and 1,23, it does not say there – just as in all other passages from the Scriptures in this connection (with the exception of Mt 19,28 and Tit 3,5) - "reborn/born again", but "re-engendered/begotten again". And this corresponds now quite exactly with the view of things explained here.
When we now can proceed from the assumption that our conversion to Christ is in fact
the reprocreation, the insemination with imperishable seed, which has taken place by his word - in
the Holy Scriptures - in our spirit and of course, also in our heart, what is then “rebirth” or
“regeneration” in sense of rebirth?
The Lord himself lets us find this out in his promise to the Disciples:
In the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on his glorious throne.
Mt 19,28 Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, in the regeneration,
when the Son of Man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit
on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Mt 19,28;
This text from Mt 19,28 is now – apart from Tit 3,5, which, however, also refers
to insemination, the renewal by the spirit – the only passage in the New Testament, which actually
uses the Greek term "regeneration" (in the Old Testament this word is not to be found at
all). It is the Lord who is speaking here of regeneration and here it actually says – in contrast
to 1Pet 1,3 and 1,23 – "regeneration" also in the Greek original text. However, a
regeneration which obviously still lies in the future. It is the time when the Lord will sit on his
glorious throne and will judge the world. The Disciples will also sit on thrones then and judge the
twelve tribes of Israel. This is the time of the Last Judgment and the event which precedes the Last
Judgment is the Universal Resurrection. So, all nations must resurrect in order to get to the
judgment. And this is what the Lord calls “regeneration” here.
(See also Chapter 13: “The Last Judgment.”)
In his talk with Nicodemus, in Jn 3,3-8, the Lord obviously had difficulties to
explain this connection between Resurrection and rebirth.
You must be born anew to see the kingdom of God.
Jn 3,3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless
one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 3,4 Nicodemus said to him, "How
can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’;s womb and be
born?" 3,5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and
the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 3,6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh,
and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3,7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You
must be born anew.’; 3,8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you
do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit".
Jn 3, 3- 8;
Nicodemus knew only the biological, physical birth and therefore asked the Lord if
we had to enter a second time into our mothers' wombs in order to be born anew. And the Lord
explained to him that we need both: our biological birth – the birth out of water (amniotic fluid)
– and our rebirth, namely the birth out of the spirit in order to enter the kingdom of God. One
who had not been born biological - out of water - is not existent and therefore in consequence
cannot be born out of the Spirit neither. So, our conversion is our spiritual procreation as a child
of God, which then, at the Resurrection at the end of the world for the Last Judgment, leads to
regeneration and to eternal life.
In a similar way as above, in his Gospel, John used the expression "born of water" also in his First Epistle for the birth – this time the birth of the Lord Jesus. First of all, he is interested in proving that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born as man (in the flesh).
Every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.
1Jn 4,2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which
confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 4,3 and every spirit which does not
confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was
coming, and now it is in the world already. 1Jn 4, 2- 3;
And in the next chapter, 1Jn 5,5, this is corroborated once more, with the
formulation "came by water and blood" referring to the birth and the death of the Lord.
This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ.
1Jn 5,5 Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that
Jesus is the Son of God? 5,6 This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with
the water only but with the water and the blood. 5,7 And the Spirit is the witness, because the
Spirit is the truth. 1Jn 5, 5- 7;
Also here the birth, the "has come in the flesh" from 1Jn 4,2, is
paraphrased in 1Jn 5,6 by "came by water". And as the next sentence in this verse shows,
it is in both texts the Spirit who testifies that Jesus Christ was born as a man. This is the main
message of these two chapters that Jesus Christ – although he is the Son of God – was
nevertheless born as a man.
Some exegetes think now, in both cases, in John's Gospel as well as in the First Epistle of John, that they have to interpret the "water" – that is to say the amniotic fluid, out of which every human being must be born and which is the proof of its earthly descent – as Christian baptism. Apart from the fact that Nicodemus did not have any idea of Christian baptism and therefore would not have understood that hint, the statement of the Lord in Jn 3,6: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" unambiguously confirms the view that he is speaking of biological birth here. And also in 1Jn 4,2 and 5,6 birth and not baptism is undoubtedly meant by the expressions "has come in the flesh" and "came by water" respectively.
In order to give Nicodemus in addition a hint at the qualities of those who are actually born anew – by water and spirit – the Lord gives the following characteristics in Jn 3,8: "The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes and whither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit". So, after Resurrection, the born again person with the spiritual body, is invisible as the wind, you do hear a "sound", but it cannot be located. This reminds us very much of the circumstances when the Lord, after his Resurrection, suddenly entered in spite of closed doors and stood right among the Disciples. And we, who are not yet born again, do not have any possibility to judge where he comes from and where he goes to.
This is now the infallible characteristic of a person who is born again, and there will not be any one among faithful Christians who wanted to assert of himself to be able to boast such qualities even during his lifetime and therewith to be born again in this sense. In actual fact, such born again persons will not be before the Millennium, after the First Resurrection. The people living on earth at that time will be able to make this experience with the resurrected martyrs, who will rule on earth with the Lord as priests of God and Christ. We will get to talking about the unfaithful who are born again, too, – however not before the Universal Resurrection - right below.
(See also Chapter 10: “The Millennium.”)
Finally we see the connection between Resurrection and rebirth also in the
Revelation according to John, where the Lord Jesus is called the "first-born of the dead".
Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead.
Rev 1,4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and
peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his
throne, 1,5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead,
and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 1,6
and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and
ever. Amen. Rev 1, 4- 6;
We want to take a closer look at the nature of this spiritual body of those who are
born again, that is to say of those resurrected persons who are actually born again
of the spirit, below.
But with that we also have the still missing argument in our comparison between biological and spiritual parturition. Rebirth is Resurrection (First Resurrection or Universal Resurrection), and it corresponds to birth in the biological sense. In both cases we come from the "dark" and see the light of a new world.
Now the impression could arise very easily that a man who has been inseminated by
the Word of God once, only had to wait and die, in order to see then, at the First Resurrection or
at the Universal Resurrection that new, spiritual world as a son of God.
But the formulation of the Lord alone, above in Lk 20,35 "but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that world …" should make us precautious. For this obviously means that not all are "accounted worthy".
On the other hand, in the case of a wrong interpretation of rebirth, as it was mentioned above, the impression is again and again given to our brothers and sisters that a man who is "born again" according to their definition - that is to say, to put it more correctly, a man who has been inseminated by the Word of God, that is to say a converted Christian, who has received the Word of God - would be automatically also saved by that.
These people should in no way be denied the hope here, which they have just as much as we all have it, who believe in the Lord. They should be only invited to a realistic way of looking at their position. And that surely not because of envy or pessimism or defeatism, as some think, but because of the unambiguous and warning statements of the Lord concerning this subject.
As for what was sown on good soil, he hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit.
Mt 13,18 "Hear then the parable of the sower. 13,19 When any
one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches
away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path.
13,20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 13,21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.
13,22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 13,23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty." Mt 13,18-23;
In the above text of the explanation of the Lord of the parable of the sower, in Mt
13,18-23, there is again talk about the seed. It is the wheat seed, which the sower sows in the
field. We realize in the explanation that this seed - just as above the "imperishable
seed" in 1Pet 1,23 - is the Word of God.
We realize furthermore that all four "ground qualities" mentioned here were sown with seed equally. That means - and this knowledge is very important - all four groups of men were preached the Word of God. And what is more: Apart from the first one the seed also sprouted with all of them, so they have received the Word of God, the Lord Jesus positively.
But what does the end look like? The heart of the first one is as hard as the path, on which the seed has been sown. The seed, the Word of God, does not find any hold for being rooted in the ground. This man is, however, not altogether free of the blame for the hardness of his heart. Just as the path, which hundreds of men had to tread on to make it that hard as it is now, also this first man had to close and harden his heart hundreds of times in order to get that hard that he finally could not receive the Word of God any more.
With the second man the things are a little bit different. He is that type of man who makes it clear to us most obviously what danger we expose ourselves to with an uncritical superficiality. He has a good ground, a good heart. However, it is very shallow. Under the thin good topsoil he has a hard rock bottom. His conversion and his faith have never reached the depth. He showed a certain interest, but then he turned again to more pleasant things very soon.
The consequence of it is that the seed finds good soil and takes root. Because of the low depth and the rocky bedrock, which reflects warmth, the ground warms up much faster than deep arable soil. The seed develops very fast and sprouts with full strength. So, the Word was received with full enthusiasm. It was a real conversion. And all brothers and sisters are full of joy and proud of this proof of the power of the Word of God - as they think.
But soon – much too soon - the rocky ground is reached. The grain of wheat wants to grow roots, but the invisible rocks under the earth hinder it from doing so. This man has not changed on the face of it. He is still the same he was at the time of his conversion. And in the same way as he turned to the Word of God full of enthusiasm in those days, he now turns - again full of enthusiasm - to another goal. It was a little bit too strenuous for him what people had expected of him. His friends even have made fun of him. And moreover, it is gradually getting monotonous. He rather likes a change.
We are fully justified in saying of the third man that he was a faithful man. He received the Word of God, he also has enough deep "arable soil" in his heart to let the Word take root. However, there are the "thorns". He is either poor and does not know where he shall take the money for the next meal for him and his family from. Or he is rich and does not know how to invest his money in the best possible way so that he cannot lose it due to crises, inflation, and devaluation.
So, both worry. These worries may be of quite an entirely different character, but in both cases they are worries. And these worries conceal them the light. The grain of wheat cannot thrive in the best soil without light. And the most faithful man cannot remain faithful in the long run without the loving affection of his God. But his worries rob this third man of his time as well as of the place in his heart for his God. Just as the grain of wheat also the faith of this man is suffocated and dies off and does not bear fruit. In a similar way as it is the case in natural reproduction – whether plant or animal - where not every attempt of insemination is successful either, also the three first ones in this parable resisted the insemination by the spirit of God.
Things are different with the fourth and last man of this line. Strictly speaking, it is not one man, but three. All three of them have the same conditions. Soft, deep surface soil, no thorn bushes which conceal the light. Their faith prospers, God blesses them, and all three of them bear fruit. The difference with them does not lie in the quality but only in the quantity of their fertility. One of them a hundred times, the second one sixty times, and the third one thirty times.
We are not told the reason for this different fertility. But we should not so much ask ourselves why the one bears less fruit than the other one, but rather why the other one bears more fruit than the one.
There can be rich or poor people among these three just as with the man "under the thorns". Here, it is not the outward circumstances, which hinder us in faith, but it is the importance we attach to these circumstances, which makes them thorns covering everything or - problems which have to be solved every day anew and which are vital - but in no way threatening life.
Also Paul urges us in 1Cor 7,29-31 to behave in a way as if we did not need this world.
And those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it.
1Cor 7,29 I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short;
from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 7,30 and those who mourn as
though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and
those who buy as though they had no goods, 7,31 and those who deal with the world as though
they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away. 1Cor 7,29-31;
So, in order to stick to the above comparison with the biological birth: We
"are expecting a new life". But the time up to birth is on no account without any danger.
Everything that can affect or even put an end to the development of the child between biological
procreation and biological birth, can also – in the figurative sense – obstruct the development
of the Christian. We find a descriptive allegorical portrayal of these dangers in the book "Pilgrim’;s
Progress" by John Bunyan.
But now we are not left to our own devices any more. We do not have to fight the battle alone and we do not have to overcome the dangers alone. It is the new spirit in us, which helps us. However, it helps us only when we let it "develop" in us. It wants to develop and to transform us. It wants to change our nature and to implant God's love in us.
If we oppose this change, the spirit in us will become stunted. And just as in biological birth there are unfortunately over and over again newborns who suffer from a handicap, also in spiritual rebirth, at the Resurrection, there will be born again persons, who will not reach the full scope of the glory intended for them.
(See also Discourse 85: “True and false rebirth.”)
In 1Cor 15,51-55 Paul reports on Rapture at the time of the second coming of the
Lord (see also 1The 4,15-17) and on the transformation of the bodies of the dead and the living:
We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.
1Cor 15,51 Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we
shall all be changed, 15,52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For
the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
15,53 For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on
15,54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." 15,55 "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" 1Cor 15,51-55;
When Paul says here, “the dead will be raised imperishable … For this mortal
nature must put on immortality …”, this text implies as a matter of fact three concrete
1. the well-known fact that the biological body is mortal, that is to say
2. if this biological body on the one hand is putrefied after its death and thus
has ceased to exist, the dead person "belonging to it" on the other hand, will be raised
then, it must have continued to exist before – between death and raising from the dead - some way
3. when they are raised the dead get then a new - this time an immortal,
imperishable - , that is to say spiritual body.
Also here below, in Gal 6,7-8 it says that we will receive eternal life from the
Spirit, that the new Resurrection body will be a spiritual, immortal body, so to speak. However, as
we will see below, this does not mean at all that this body received by the Spirit, that is to say
the spiritual body, will be "bodiless".
Who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Gal 6,7 Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows,
that he will also reap. 6,8 For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but
he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Gal 6, 7- 8;
Who attains the resurrection, cannot die any more.
Lk 20,34 And Jesus said to them, "The sons of this age marry and
are given in marriage; 20,35 but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that world and to
the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 20,36 for they cannot
die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
But this resurrection body is not only immortal, it is also invisible. We can learn
from Jn 3,8 that all those who are born of the Spirit, are scarcely perceptible for the mortal man.
As already mentioned, such a situation will occur for the first time in the Millennium, where the
martyrs who came to life again at the First Resurrection will rule together with Christ. They are
all born of the Spirit, whereas all of the people who live then on this earth, have not been
born again yet.
It comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.
Jn 3,8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but
you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the
Spirit. Jn 3, 8;
This is a hint at the fact that the spiritual body can move invisibly in space (and
in time?). We also find a confirmation of that in the following passages:
And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.
Lk 24,30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed,
and broke it, and gave it to them. 24,31 And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and
he vanished out of their sight. Lk 24,30-31;
As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them.
Lk 24,36 As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them.
24,37 But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. Lk 24,36-37;
The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them.
Jn 20,26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and
Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said,
"Peace be with you." Jn 20,26;
We learn the fact that the resurrected Christ can present himself with this
spiritual body of his, however, also in corporeal form (flesh and bones) below, at the apparition of
the Lord Jesus among the Disciples, in Lk 24,39-43.
As already explained at the beginning, the statement in Jn 3,3: "Unless one is
born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." leads some people to believe that it are only
those resurrected men, who can enter the kingdom of God, that is to say those whose names are
written in the Book of Life, would receive an immortal spiritual body. The unfaithful, this people
think, would not take part in any Resurrection and in particular, they would not receive an immortal
In this connection one has to take into account the context of Jn 3,3, where the Lord Jesus wanted to make it clear to Nicodemus that there will be a rebirth - namely in the form of Resurrection - after the biological death. However, this rebirth is not a reward for the faithful. Reward will come, too. But here, in the Resurrection, what it is all about is a regularity of the spiritual dimension, which applies equally to all people - whether faithful or unfaithful. This is confirmed to us in particular also by Mt 19,28, where the Lord is speaking of regeneration and of the fact that he and his twelve Disciples will judge. And the Disciples will judge the twelve tribes of Israel, that is to say all descendants of the sons of Jacob, from that time to today and from today to the regeneration in the Universal Resurrection. Among them there must be now without any doubt not only many faithful and servants of God, but also many godless and worshipers of idols. Consequently, regeneration is an event that is immanent in the system of Creation and concerns every single human being.
As it is postulated here that all people will experience a rebirth at the Resurrection, two legitimate questions arise. On the one hand the question of the further development of the godless after their Resurrection. This complex of problems shall be examined more closely right below. On the other hand, however, – in the opposite direction - the question of the consequence of the logical conclusion: without procreation no birth. If the godless take part in the rebirth/regeneration, the above-mentioned reprocreation must have taken place with them, too. Can a godless be begotten again by the spirit of God? This is, of course, impossible! But how could this be explained then?
The logical reasoning can be presented as follows: As a rebirth takes place, a reprocreation must have taken place, too. This reprocreation must also have taken place through the spirit, because all people must be born again by "water and spirit". But the distinctive criterion is the spirit. While the sons of God are begotten again by the spirit of God, the spirit, who inseminates and reprocreates the godless and impenitent, is the spirit of the Evil, the satanic spirit of the Antichrist and godlessness.
Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?
Mt 13,24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, "The
kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 13,25 "But while
his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 13,26
"But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 13,27
"The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your
field? How then does it have tares?’ 13,28 "And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done
this!’ The slaves *said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 13,29
"But he *said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with
them. 13,30 ‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I
will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up;
but gather the wheat into my barn."‘" Mt 13,24-30;
The distinction between these two lineages and the separation of the godless from
the righteous takes place then at the judgment, when the sons of God enter the kingdom of God, the
eternal life and when the sons of the Evil, the godless, have to suffer the second (re-) death and
are turned over to damnation.
The lot of the cowardly and the faithless shall be in the lake that burns.
Rev 21,8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted,
as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the
lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death. Rev 21, 8;
The statement that the unfaithful have to suffer the second death here,
implies that they were also born a second time. Otherwise they would not be able to die a second
Paul formulates this in a similar way in 1Cor 15,50:
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
1Cor 15,50 I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit
the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 1Cor 15,50;
He, too, refers primarily to the faithful. However, it is quite clear: flesh and
blood will not "inherit" damnation either. And finally we see this connection with John as
well in the Revelation.
Rev 20,5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the
thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Rev 20, 5;
He is speaking here of the dead, who are left behind in the realm of the dead at the
First Resurrection, that is to say faithful and unfaithful. And he says that all of them, that is to
say the unfaithful, too, will "come to life" when the one thousand years are over.
So, the godless have to undergo Resurrection, too. They have to be born anew, they have to come to life again, in order to be condemned immediately afterward and to be damned forever.
And in this way we have to understand Jn 3,3 as well: The precondition for being allowed to enter the kingdom of God is first of all that he is "born anew", that is to say that he receives a spiritual body. The second and considerably more decisive condition is however, that his name is written in the Book of Life. And it is only here that the distinction between the faithful and the godless has an influence and not earlier.
This is also confirmed by the fact that the righteous and the godless will be before
the Lord for judgment at the same time.
He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Mt 25,31 "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the
angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 25,32 Before him will be
gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the
sheep from the goats, 25,33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the
left. Mt 25,31-33;
The good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one.
Mt 13,36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his
disciples came to him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field."
13,37 He answered, "He who sows the good seed is the Son of man;
13,38 the field is the world, and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one, 13,39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are angels. 13,40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the world.
13,41 The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 13,42 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. 13,43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. Mt 13,36-43;
Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.
Mt 13,24 Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom
of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; 13,25 but while men were
sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 13,26 So when the plants
came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 13,27 And the servants of the householder came
and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’; 13,28
He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’; The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to
go and gather them?’;
13,29 But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.
13,30 Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’;" Mt 13,24-30;
As we have recognized above the Word of God as the good seed, we learn here, in Mt
13,24-30, that also the evil one scatters his seed. It is not the more or less stunted or choked
grain of wheat, which is talked about here. It is unequivocally and without any doubt weed. It can
be recognized already when it grows. But the Lord says, "Let both grow together until the
harvest". So, we realize here, too, that the separation of the righteous from the godless takes
place only after the Resurrection, at the "harvest", after the rebirth of all of them.
That also the unfaithful will get an immortal body is also the logical consequence of the well-known statements that the godless will fall into eternal damnation. If they did not have a spiritual body, they would not be immortal, and therefore, they could not suffer forever in the lake of fire either, as it emerges from the following text in 2The 1,6-10.
Those who do not know God shall suffer the punishment of eternal corruption.
2The 1,6 since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those
who afflict you, 1,7 and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is
revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, 1,8 inflicting vengeance upon those
who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 1,9 They
shall suffer the punishment of eternal corruption and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and
from the glory of his might, 1,10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and
to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 2The 1, 6-10;
A further detail of the statement in Jn 3,5 "Unless one is born of water and
the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" is the "reciprocal" consequence,
which is less known because it has been still too little thought about, that those people who did
not go through the first birth, that is to say the natural, fleshy one ("of water"),
cannot be born again and consequently cannot enter the kingdom of God either. The responsibility of the
advocates of abortion becomes very evident here!
However, we get the most detailed clues on the nature and characteristics of the
resurrection body from the reports of the Resurrection of the Lord. Not least for the simple reason
that this event - in contrast to the First Resurrection - has already taken place, and all
statements come from witnesses of the time.
Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.
Jn 20,11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she
stooped to look into the tomb; 20,12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of
Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 20,13 They said to her, "Woman, why are
you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know
where they have laid him."
20,14 Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 20,15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." 20,16 Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).
20,17 Jesus said to her, "Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." 20,18 Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her. Jn 20,11-18;
(See also Discourse 87: “The Turin Shroud.”)
The fact that precisely this passage from the Scriptures from the Gospel of John is
quoted here, has a special reason. It is the report of the very first encounter of a human being –
namely of Mary Magdalene - with the Lord who has just risen from the dead. And this report is also
to be differentiated clearly from the other reports, in which the Lord appeared to other persons
later. We can see that the Lord Jesus immediately after his raising from the dead was anxious not to
get into body contact with men. He said to Mary, "Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended
to the Father". It seems as if the resurrection body of the Lord was not yet endowed with its
full capabilities at that time. If we now proceed from the assumption that this requirement, to
ascend to heaven immediately after the raising from the dead, also applies to other persons who were
raised from the dead, a reason can be found here why the many saints who rose from the dead when the
Lord died (Mt 27,50-54), did not leave a particular impression on the population of Jerusalem. Their
presence was quite simply too short. They could only appear for a short time and then they
disappeared again. And so most people of those who had seen them thought probably that they were
tricked by haunting.
We shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
1The 4,16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of
command, with the archangel’;s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in
Christ will rise first;
4,17 then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. 1The 4,16-17;
Also this prophecy of Paul of Rapture in 1The 4,16-17 shows that those who were
raised from the dead as well as those living who are "clothed about" are immediately
caught up into heaven to the Lord.
In contrast to Jn 20,17, where the Lord warns Mary, "Do not touch me, for I
have not yet ascended to the Father" he did, however, not have any misgivings here below, in Lk
24,36-43, to let himself be touched by the Disciples - after he had ascended into heaven, to the
Father after his raising from the dead, and then returned in his Resurrection back to the earth, in
order to meet the Disciples - to let himself be touched by the Disciples. On the contrary, he showed
them that his body consisted of flesh and bones and even ate fish and drank something in order to
dispel the fear of the Disciples that he was a spirit.
Handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.
Lk 24,36 As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them.
24,37 But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. 24,38 And he said
to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts?
24,39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have." (24,40)
24,41 And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 24,42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 24,43 and he took it and ate before them. Lk 24,36-43;
Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side.
Jn 20,26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and
Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said,
"Peace be with you." 20,27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see
my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but
believing." Jn 20,26-27;
These above connections also admit the conclusion that the resurrection body of the
Lord had a certain versatility in its corporeal state and could be both invisible and of "flesh
and bones". But also the change of the form of this spiritual body of the Lord is handed down
to us in Mk 16,9-12:
After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country.
Mk 16,9 Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he
appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 16,10 She went and
told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 16,11 But when they heard that he was
alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. 16,12 After this he appeared in
another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. Mk 16, 9-12;
Lk 24,15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself
drew near and went with them. 24,16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. Lk
It is hard to say if the intake of material food is necessary in this state of
existence. But we know from the statements of the Lord that eating and drinking will also be part of
the life of the born again in the Millennium. He prophesies one time that he will not drink “of this
fruit of the vine" during the time from his Resurrection to his return. But then, in the
Millennium, he will eat and drink again together with the Disciples.
I shall drink again of this fruit of the vine in my Father’;s kingdom.
Mt 26,29 I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until
that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’;s kingdom.". Mt 26,29;
Lk 22,17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said,
"Take this, and divide it among yourselves; 22,18 for I tell you that from now on I shall
not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." Lk 22,17-18;
If we pursue the principle further that all phenomena, which occurred in the
Resurrection of the Lord, are not individual occurrences, but the course of events which are
immanent in a system of another dimension, and therefore apply to all Resurrections of the dead,
even more conclusions can be drawn. If you take into consideration the fact that Paul speaks in
chapter 15 of his First Epistle to the Corinthians, where he is speaking about the Resurrection of
the dead, altogether 15 times of "raising" and not of "resurrecting"
(unfortunately these passages were mistranslated by Luther again and again with
"resurrecting") and if we compare this with the text from Rev 20,4-6, where there is
explicitly talk about the First "Resurrection" and about the fact that the souls
"came to life again" there, this admits the conclusion that the one text is about the
"raising" from the dead – as it was the case with the Lord in Jn 20,17 –, but
that the other text is about "Resurrection" – as it was the case with Jesus after
his return from the Father in Jn 20,27. Accordingly, the event which has been hitherto understood by
the term of "Resurrection" is divided into two phases:
1. The raising of the dead from the realm of the dead and their Rapture into
2. The Resurrection of the souls from heaven and their "coming to life
again" with spiritual and physical bodies on the earth.
Also the report from Jn 20,26-27 and Lk 24,36-43 respectively, where the Lord could
on the one hand move through matter when he returned to the Disciples and on the other hand,
however, could present an absolutely physical body (flesh and bones), admits the conclusion that all
resurrected men, for instance those who will rule together with the Lord in the Millennium (Rev
20,6), will have such a body, too, and consequently will be able to fulfill their tasks in heaven
with the Father as well as on earth with the people of the Millennium.
God raised Him up on the third day.
Acts 10,40 "God raised Him up on the third day and
granted that He become visible, 10,41 not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen
beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He resurrected from
the dead. Acts 10,40-41M
(See also Chapter 12: “The Resurrection.”)
We are God’s children and when he appears we shall be like him.
1Jn 3,2 Beloved, we are God’;s children now; it does not yet
appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall
see him as he is. 1Jn 3, 2;
When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Col 3,1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that
are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 3,2 Set your minds on things that are
above, not on things that are on earth. 3,3 For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in
3,4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Col 3, 1- 4;
Finally we also have the promise of the Lord, in Lk 22,28-30:
That you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.
Lk 22,28 "You are those who have continued with me in my trials;
22,29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 22,30 that you
may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Here the Lord promises to the Disciples that he will assign the kingdom to them.
That means he is speaking here of the vocation of the Disciples after their Resurrection. And he
tells them that they will then rule together with him in his Kingdom of Peace, and that they will
also sit at his table and will eat and drink with him. We see, also in this point those who come to
life again will be like their Lord, namely that they will, after their Resurrection in the
Millennium, eat and drink at the table of their Lord with their spiritual bodies. But also here it
is hard to say - just as it was the case with Lk 24,42-43 for the Lord - if this intake of food of
the Disciples at the table of the Lord is a vital necessity or if it is only an act of reverence.
In summarizing, we can make out the following characteristics of the resurrection
- Man receives an immortal spiritual body when he is raised from the dead.
- Immediately after the raising from the dead no mortal is allowed to touch the spiritual body.
- The raised man must first come into heaven before God with his spiritual body.
- There he gets his judgment and his reward.
- After that those raised men who are destined for it, will resurrect in a second phase.
- At this Resurrection they "come to life again".
- Their spiritual body is then invisible for mortals, but it can materialize.
- The resurrected man can move through solid matter.
- He is a spirit, but he can also appear in a material state, in "flesh and bones".
- In the material state he can eat and drink and change its form.
- He will be sexless and thus like the angels.
The eternal existence of every human being.
Every individual human being who leaves the amniotic
sac of his or her mother alive in being physically born – who is
"born of water" (amniotic fluid), that is to say (Jn 3:5)
– receives a human spirit (1Cor 2:11) from God (Jn 4:24) with
eternal existence (Mt 25:46). In the first, temporal and earthly
part of their existence – in their life, human beings have the
possibility of deciding, in complete freedom, without any compulsion
and with the help of the spirit given them by God, whether or not
they will give this God, the creator of all life, their complete
trust and entire love.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
1Cor 15,42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 15,43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 15,44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 15,45 So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, became a living soul." (Gen 2,7) The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 15,46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 1Cor 15,42-45;
With this body the human being will
then stand at the Last Judgment before
the Son of God, who has been given the task by God (Jn 5:22, 26-27)
of judging every human being on the basis of their earthly deeds and
their decision for or against God while still alive (Rom 2:16).
(See also discourse 22: “Is there such a thing as the immortality of the soul?”)